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Species Information

Range/Habitat: North American Porcupines are found in western and northern regions of the US, the northwestern most portion of Mexico, and most of Canada. They are commonly found in forests and brushy areas. 

Behavior: Porcupines are mainly nocturnal and spend most of their time in trees. At night, they forage from tree to tree feeding on buds, twigs and bark. They are solitary creatures and are able to defend themselves with their quills. Contrary to popular belief, porcupines cannot shoot their quills. They are loosely attached to their skin and easily lodge into a predator upon contact. 

Breeding: Porcupines live solitary lives other than in late fall when breeding begins. Females attract mates by secreting a think mucus with her urine. Males do not breed right away with the female but may sit near her in the same tree. Other males may come with hopes of mating. Males will fight until only the dominant male remains and other males have been chased off. Actually mating occurs on the ground with quills flat against their bodies so as not to injure one another. The female may give birth in late spring to one offspring. The offspring are fully dependent on their mothers for milk for two weeks, after which they will start to forage. They still continue to nurse for up to four months. 

Conservation: Listing: Least concern. However, in Mexico the Porcupine is an endangered species. Habitat loss and hunting are threats to their populations. They are sometimes considered agricultural pests because of their ability to destroy plants through their foraging habits. Tree damage by porcupines is much worse in areas where natural predators have been removed.  In Utah, the Porcupine is a protected species. 

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